A Tauranga demolition and digger hire company has been convicted and fined a total of $67,687 for illegally disposing of asbestos-contaminated demolition waste and fill material, and clearing native vegetation in Otumoetai last year.
The prosecution against C Side Services was brought jointly by Tauranga City Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
The Otumoetai site where the offending occurred borders a council reserve near Waikareao Estuary's Daisy Hardwick Walkway, with about half the property within a Category 1 Special Ecological Area. The affected site is now listed with both councils as a contaminated site.
The charges relate to a number of illegal activities at the defendant's property, including disposing of demolition waste containing asbestos in April last year, clearing native vegetation in a special ecological area and Illegal filling between August 2010 and April last year.
The fines include $22,687 for asbestos disposal, $22,000 for clearing the special ecological area and $23,000 for illegal filling. The defendant is also required to re-vegetate the area and remediate the contaminated land.
In 2013 the two councils both received complaints about demolition material containing asbestos being taken from a church demolition site in Fraser Street to the Grange Road site bordering the reserve. The demolition work was being carried out by 'C' Side Services, a company owned by Stephen Craig Walling.
Samples dug up at the Grange Road site owned by 'C' Side Services tested positive for white, brown and blue asbestos, and Mr Walling was issued an abatement notice to stop work. He said he was putting clean-fill, dirt and concrete onto the property to form a driveway to a house site and to create a grassed garden area with exotic palms.
He said he had taken 15 truckloads of demolition waste from the church to the Grange Road site and had also allowed two other contractors to deposit concrete and dirt there.
A total of 372 square metres of the Special Ecological Area and its 5 metre buffer zone had been cleared of vegetation. An environmental report said the cleared area contained some indigenous vegetation and was an integral part of a larger area of indigenous vegetation and habitat.
At the sentencing hearing the court heard that asbestos was risky when broken, and while burial was the proper method of disposal, where large quantities of asbestos had been buried in rural areas, the costs to developers and landowners in removing it were extremely high. Inhaled asbestos can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
A report from consultants Tonkin & Taylor concluded that material containing asbestos at the site posed an immediate and long-term risk to human health if no management controls were put in place.